msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/30/2010 9:16:00 AM ET 2010-07-30T13:16:00

A Florida inmate has filed a lawsuit seeking $500,000 in damages from three men who caught him red-handed with a stolen bicycle, claiming they roughed him up, according to a newspaper report.

Michael Dupree is serving a 12-year sentence for burglary and cocaine possession stemming from a 2007 break-in of a van in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dupree allegedly stole the bicycle locked inside and was apprehended after the owner, Anthony McKoy, saw him with the bike down the street, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Dupree, who was homeless at the time, according to a police report, claimed McKoy and two others pointed a gun at him, handcuffed him and placed a knee painfully in his back.

In his suit, which he filed on his own without the help of an attorney, Dupree said that the take-down "resulted in permanent disabilities and psychological disorders which the Plaintiff continues to suffer."

'What gall'
After being served with the suit, McKoy said: "I thought it was a joke. I'm the victim."

"It's laughable. It's a waste of taxpayer money," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "What gall. I guess time in prison just makes you go crazy."

The Times said McKoy had been working at his business on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S. on the morning of Oct. 11, 2007, when he noticed that the passenger window of one of his vehicles was broken.

He then spotted Dupree with the red bike and gave chase with two other men, the Times said. They found Dupree hiding naked a few hundred feet away.

McKoy said he put Dupree in a shoulder hold until officers arrived, the Times reported. Dupree told police someone had given him the bike, which he had planned to sell at a nearby store.

Dupree, who was convicted of burglary in 2008, is serving his sentence at the Apalachee Correctional Institution in Sneads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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